Frogpond 32.2 • 2009

Museum of Haiku
Literature Award

Haiku & Senryu

Revelations Unedited





Tan Renga

Book Review

From the Editors



Abe, K., Ichino, K., Itō, T., et al. (eds.)
The Haiku Universe for the 21st Century

Abe, K., Ichino, K., Itō, T., et al. (eds.). The Haiku Universe for the 21st Century: Japanese/English JAPANESE HAIKU 2008. Tokyo: Modern Haiku Association, 2008, 216 pp., perfect softbound, 5 1/2/ x 8 1/2. ISBN 978-4-8161-0712-2, 25 USD (no checks) <6-5-4 Kairaku Building, Soto kanda Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan 101-0021>.

Reviewed by Brent Partridge, California

More than just a bilingual anthology, this book also includes “A Brief History of Modern Haiku.” The anthology is the work of more than 245 modern and contemporary (born since 1945) poets. It’s arranged historically and divided into sections titled “Pioneers,” “Promoters,” “Challengers,”and “Kaleidoscope.” Though this volume has a number of tiny mistakes in its English translation, none of them disturb the enjoyment of the truly great haiku. A wide and egalitarian overview of the field is provided, pointing the way to possible further translation of the works of these writers. The success achieved by so many to expand haiku in unique ways— is striking. The principle of juxtaposition alone is explored in most transformative ways. The writers’ thrusts of innovative style are closely revealed.

Here are two examples from each of the four sections ...


Poling along
right in the middle
of the moon

Seisensui Ogiwara (1884-1976)

In my usual clothes
and my usual state of mind—
peach blossoms

Ayako Hosomi (1909-1981)


Fluffy snowflakes—
quietly the hours
begin to dance

Sumio Mori (1919- )

Placing the new year
on a set of scales—
they stay quite still

Michi Shibuya (1926- )


Yourself and me:
everything has been frozen
to a rosy hue

Ryū Yotsuya (1958- )

In the evening sky
for cats in love
a castle tower

Reona Takayama (1968- )


Every so often
it mutters an archaic word:
the toad

Shijūkara Iwashita (1913-2006)

On a pilgrimage to space
force all the stars
to pray

Hitoshi Hashiguchi (1956- )

Both the poems in the historical section and those in the anthology offer valuable inspiration to haiku writers in our increasingly competitive creative lives.